Worth Reading - 2/11

1. The role of money has changed in modern economics. An excellent long form article by Samuel Gregg outlines the purpose and use of money in economics.

The first lesson in any textbook about money is that its most basic function is to be a medium of exchange. Money serves as a proxy for the value of real goods and services, which are objects of economic exchange. This, however, allows money to perform three other functions: a store of value through time, a unit of account, and a standard of deferred payment.

These functions permit money to serve two other important purposes. First, it can be an efficient conveyor of information through the price system. Prices bring a type of order to the seemingly anarchic character of market economies. Prices increase and decline in response to consumer demand and the emergence and refinement of products and services. This information allows resources to be constantly reallocated in accordance with ceaseless changes in supply and demand. Money-as-prices thus permits a coordination of millions of pieces of economic information dispersed among billions of individuals.

2. The left seems to have flipped their lids over Betsy DeVos. Ross Douthat argues that this is more an example of politics as usual than the unique resistance that disappointed Clinton supporters have promised.

DeVos did look unprepared and even foolish at times during her confirmation hearings, and she lacks the usual government experience. But officially the opposition claimed to be all about hardheaded policy empiricism. A limited and heavily regulated charter school program is one thing, the argument went, but DeVos’s zeal for free markets would gut public education and turn kids over to the not-so-tender mercies of unqualified bottom-liners. Just look at what happened in her native Michigan, her critics charged, where the influence of her philanthropic dollars helped flood Detroit’s school system with unsupervised charters run by incompetents and hacks.

But the empiricists’ argument wasn’t particularly empirical. There’s no evidence that DeVos-backed charters actually visited disaster on Detroit’s students. Instead, the very studies that get cited to critique her efforts actually show the city’s charters modestly outperforming public schools.

3. A recent article from Acton Institute argues that the socialized medical system in the United Kingdom may in fact create a humanitarian crisis very similar to the one that it is intended to solve:

For months, the UK’s National Health Service has set new records of delay, overcrowding, and denial of service. Within just hours of each other this week, national leaders on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean – the U.S. and the UK – both cited the NHS as a looming disaster. During Wednesday’s Parliament question and answer session with Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn recited anecdotes of declining service, and his followers tweeted that “only Labour can be trusted to protect the NHS.” That came one day after Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders debated healthcare reform for two hours on CNN. Sen. Cruz warned viewers about the dangers of European national healthcare systems, while Sen. Sanders lauded interventionist economic policies that treated health care as a “right.”

Some Christian organizations share Sanders’ passion for welfare state healthcare policies, despite their record in the UK and on the continent, claiming they are most in accordance with Jesus’ teachings. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good asserts that the Roman Catholic Church views government as “best suited to serve the public interest and promote the common good,” especially regarding health care, because “Catholic social teaching has traditionally been suspicious of market ideology for its emphasis on profit and self-interest.” Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and many liberal mainline Protestant organizations come to a similar assessment of their own faith traditions. For instance, many leaders within the nation’s second-largest Protestant church, the United Methodist church, support single-payer healthcare, which they describe as “Jesus’ mandate.”

4. There was an exciting archaeological discovery this week, as another Dead Sea Scrolls cave was found in Israel. No scrolls were uncovered, but this increases the hope that future discoveries will provide additional corroboration to the accuracy of the Old Testament manuscripts or other extra biblical literature.

“Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea Scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr Gutfeld.

”Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we “only” found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen,” he said.

”The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”

The team also found a seal made from carnelian, a semi-precious stone - evidence that prehistoric people once lived in the desert cave.

5. Here's a pretty cool video using Google Maps, which offers a round the world trip of many major landmarks.